September 29, 2016

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Using media monitoring to develop media lists

Using media monitoring to develop media lists

One of the most underappreciated uses for media monitoring is how it can facilitate the creation of media lists.

When I first started working in the PR industry, there were two ways you generally tackled pulling together a media list for a client.  Either you were handed an existing media list that would need to be manually verified and updated—and this meant calling phone numbers on the list and verifying the reporter still worked at the publication and on that beat, and then verifying the fax number (yes, I am that old)—or, you pulled together one from scratch. Needless to say, this was one of the least glamorous aspects of PR, it took hours, and there were appropriate specialty publications that would get missed.

There is a (much) easier way.

The key elements of an effective media list are: relevant publications, the reporter/blogger name, and an email address. I’d add a phone number and a Twitter handle, when possible, to that list.

Your most useful functions in a media monitoring tool will be the sort and create spreadsheet functions. The first step I’d recommend is to pull all coverage your client account has received over the last three or six months—or over the last year if it’s a lower volume account.

Then, sort the information by publication. Within publications, you are looking for a few things: one, any publications that repeatedly mention your client or client issues/topics; two, any major publications that mentioned your client; three, any specialty publications that target your client’s business niche; and four, an “oddball” category. The “oddball” category could contain things like coverage in an unexpected place, or mentions that don’t fit a standard profile for business objectives (such as if the CEO was featured in a car enthusiast magazine because of a car collection, etc.); it’s a catchall category that may or may not yield useful targets. Within these categories, tag any that should be on a media list. Be discerning with this; relevance is important.

The next step, if you’ve been tracking sentiment, is to sift through the publications results making note of sentiment. Tag or note the positive pieces and neutral pieces. Examine some of the negative results and see how the clip earned that rating. There’s a difference between a clip rated negative because of the way an issue was handled in the piece versus a journalist who has your industry in his or her crosshairs. Tag the ones that should be on a media outreach list.

Now, create a spreadsheet using the tag you’ve created as the filter, and include whatever fields are useful to you (in CustomScoop’s tool, I’d recommend: source, source type, headline, byline, date, tag, and rating—and location/state if that’s relevant to your outreach). From there, it’s simple to add columns to the spreadsheet for items like email addresses—which are usually just a click away on the source’s page—and any other information that you deem necessary.

The benefits of creating a media list from content pulled together from your existing media monitoring work is that it is basically “prequalified” information. These publications have already written something that was relevant to your company or client, so the interest exists. Your role is to look at what it is that you will be pitching and make sure it’s a logical fit with those you’ve targeted in your media list.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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